Gov. Barbour's Sudden Discomfort With 'Denouncing' People

February 16, 2011 3:39 pm ET — Julia Krieger

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour

This week, likely Republican presidential candidate Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS) drew criticism for refusing to denounce a local Confederate heritage group's proposal to honor an early Ku Klux Klan leader on a license plate, saying, "I don't go around denouncing people. That's not going to happen. I don't even denounce the news media."

However, last fall Barbour did denounce an anti-Muslim Florida pastor's plan to burn copies of the Koran:

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, Chair of the Republican Governors Association, condemned the plan by a Florida minister to burn copies of the Koran to commemorate the September 11 attacks on the United States.

Speaking at a Monitor-sponsored breakfast for reporters, Barbour said, "I do not think well of the idea of burning anybody's Koran or Bible or Book of Mormon or anything else. I don't think there is any excuse for it."

As chairman of the RNC in 1996, Barbour also denounced unions for actions he deemed "unconscionable" (via Nexis):

Barbour said that whatever attempt is made at rewriting campaign finance laws would deal with the role unions play in contributing money raised from union dues to political activities.

Barbour said the AFL-CIO concedes that 40 percent of union members vote for Republicans.

"Money's being taken from them out of every paycheck, given to the union. The union's turning around and spending it to elect Democrats. ... It's unconscionable. It's unacceptable," he said.

This isn't the first time Gov. Barbour has refused to denounce racism. After he and Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA) each declared April Confederate History Month without mentioning slavery, Barbour claimed that the controversy "doesn't amount to diddly." He recently suggested the segregated south wasn't really "that bad."